[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0tKKyEXYTI&h=25]Colin Stetson's sax craft bleeds pure artistry New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is an astoundingly creative breath of fresh air. Largely an instrumental record, the Montreal contemporary composer throws away any traditional idea of resolution through 45 minutes of tense, beautiful music.
The line between noise and sound is blurred, with both intertwining in Stetson's dynamic delivery. He employs incredible craftsmanship on the bass saxophone, constructing truly unique one-take horn solos through reed bending, throat singing, and circular breathing. Captured by an assortment of microphones with the help of Efrim Menuck of Godspeed/A Silver Mt. Zion fame, Stetson achieves percussive and unconventionally melodic sonic movements without overdubs.
With this record Stetson has truly created a voice that is his and his alone. Guest singer Shara Worden and the dark, tone-setting spoken words of Laurie Anderson add an extra layer to this minimalist symphony, but always serve as a supporting role to Stetson's horn performance. Hearing this mind-blowing creativity makes me really wish I had Googled his name when seeing it all over posters in the city last month; this is a hard record to review, and a lot of that comes from the frustration of knowing I could have seen this incredible performance live.
But that's in the past, and I've learnt my lesson. This record has more than enough substance to keep me satisfied until he plays Montreal again.